It has almost been 10 years since we shifted permanently to the ‘city of lights’ (often quipped as the city of no lights thanks to the KESC!). Even though I wasn’t always permanently living in Karachi, I’ve always been connected with this city. Always was a frequent visitor. By train or by C130 when my father was in the army. I was also born in Karachi.
I’ve experienced so much in this city, grown so much here … that I am connected to it. Not just because of the fact that more than half of my khandaan is settled here but .. because … all the ‘big’ things that have happened in my life have been in this city. Birth of course being the foremost! First beach trip (subsequently falling in love with beaches, even though i don’t know how to swim). First board exam down to the final chapter of my Student life. First love, second love. Valentines. Birthdays. Professional studies. First job. Brothers weddings. Becoming an uncle. Music. Writing. (Music and writing because they are both now a big part of who I am). Learning to drive. My city. Karachi is embedded in me. And now with my father’s passing, I think it’s deeper in me, this city and its roots.
The chilly weather it borrows from Quetta during December / January, to put up its show for the supposed winter season. The drive early in the morning, feeling the cool chill air hitting you. Karachi broast during Ramazan for Sehri. The night matches. The various term reports, group work, internships, concerts, stand up comedy shows. The rain.
I’ve experienced rain in Peshawer, Pindi, Lahore, London etc. But none can compare to the rain in Karachi. Minus the part where we all run about ensuring that water doesn’t enter our abode s. And of course the part where the roads are flooded with rain water and cause havoc. Minus all that… the rain in this city .. is intoxicating. I know you guys are probably thinking I’ve lost it. But then that’s Karachi for you… it leaves you feeling love and hate both.
The national stadium – the cheering on for the matches during the good old days pre 2003. The coffee houses. The restaurant that we ran – Kaldi. CBM. Weddings… of friends, cousins …my brothers. My memories echo mostly with Karachi. With the rest echoing of the time my father was in the Army and we used to move around every 2 years or so.
I even became a fan of Arsenal (Premier League) (Gunners) when we moved to Karachi only. This city for me has my angels and my demons both. The lure of this city is deeply grooved in me. The kebab houses. The nihari places. The biryanies! And of course … boat basin and mixed chat. And one of the greatest discoveries of food – Chicken Roll, Kebab Roll, Chicken garlic mayo etc etc.
The problems in this city of course cannot be ignored and neither can be forgotten. But the memories, the experiences it has offered are those for which I am who I am today. Personality wise I mean.
The terror attacks, the fighting, the gun shots, the muggings, the kidnappings.. .they are all there as well. (I’ve been robbed twice – gun point). But I figure that happens everywhere. Yes perhaps its more difficult over here in that regard then at other places. But it’s still Karachi. This city is like the ‘lady in red’ that lures you, over and over again. Like that love that has the power to drive you crazy time and again.
Mai Kolachi to Hawksbay, DHA to PECHS, Boat Basin to Zamzama, Zainab Market to it’s marriots and PCs and avaris. Bahria College to CBM. Airport to PACC.
10 years have gone past. I know I’ve often complained in between that I’ve been in Karachi for such a long time without being out of here .. without having a break. But at the end of the day that’s just what it is. A break. I can’t imagine ( for the moment anyway ) being parted from my city. Its air, its lights, I cannot leave. The familiarity and the freedom it offers me… I cannot let go.
The city which has shown me art, culture and so much more. The city which has shown me so much life. So much spirit – and at the same time.. the darkness of this world as well. It’s like a ying-yang situation. But it is still Karachi.
I was and will always remain a Karachi-ite!